A practical guide to creating learning slide shows: part 4 – distribution

Practical guidesIn the first part of this practical guide, we discussed the potential of stand-alone slide presentations as a tool for learning. We moved on to look at the visual element in the presentation – the slides – and the auditory component – the narration. In this final section, we explore what’s involved in getting your slide show out there in front of as many eyeballs as possible.

Keeping it simple

Your first option is to send round your presentation in its native PowerPoint format or to make this available for download. This will work as long as everyone who is likely to want to view the slides has their own copy of PowerPoint and are able to view the slides in the format in which you have saved them (for example, to view presentations saved in the pptx format, viewers must have PowerPoint 2007 or later). Presentations saved in native PowerPoint format will be bulky but they can still be edited by the recipient (if you regard that as an advantage).

Saving from PowerPoint
PowerPoint allows you to save in a number of backwards-compatible formats but also as PDF files

A simple alternative is to save your slides directly from PowerPoint into PDF format. This reduces compatibility problems as most people have a PDF reader. It will also reduce file size. However, the files will no longer be editable.

Converting to Flash

You can achieve a more polished and web-friendly result using one of a number of tools that will convert your presentation into Flash format, along with a host of useful additional features. Perhaps the best-known of these tools are Articulate Presenter and Adobe Presenter (although you might also take a look at the newly-released and budget priced Snap! by Lectora). These work similarly in that they sit within PowerPoint itself as an add-in, with their own ribbons or drop-down menus (depending on the version of PowerPoint).

Articulate ribbon
The functions of Articulate Presenter are available as a ribbon in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010

Using these tools you can add narration, organise your slides into sections and sub-sections, insert additional media such as Flash animations and videos, and then publish into Flash for upload to your intranet, learning management system or other web site. Actually these tools can do a lot more in terms of adding interactivity, but that goes beyond the scope of this practical guide.

Articulate Presenter output
This presentation has been converted to Flash for delivery online

Exporting to video

If you just want your slides to be viewed in a linear fashion, from start to finish, and you are prepared to add an audio narration, then you should seriously consider distributing in video format. One attraction is the ease with which you can upload video to sites such as YouTube. Another is the fact that nearly all mobile devices will support video, whereas Flash can be a problem, particularly on Apple devices.

You need a tool which will capture your slides, allow you to add narration and then publish to a suitable video format. If you are happy to go with the Windows Media Video (WMV) format, then you can do this directly from the latest version of PowerPoint. If you want  a bigger choice of formats and more editing flexibility, try using a tool like Camtasia.

Camtasia toolbar
Camtasia can also be installed as a PowerPoint add-in, allowing you to access the Camtasia controls direct from the ribbon

Once you have captured your slides (including any embedded animations and videos), the Camtasia Studio software allows you to make edits and export to a wide range of video formats.

Camtasia Studio
Camtasia Studio

Publish on SlideShare.net

Another option to consider, if you want your presentations to have the widest possible online presence, is to publish to a site like SlideShare.net. What YouTube is to videos and Flickr is to photos, SlideShare is to presentations.

The process is really simple. You set up an account and then upload your PowerPoint or Keynote slides, which are then automatically converted into SlideShare’s Flash-based format. Users can view and comment on the slides on the SlideShare site or you can embed the slides in a web page or posting.

SlideShare presentation
A presentation on SlideShare.net

That concludes this practical guide.

A PDF version will be available for download soon.

About Clive Shepherd

Clive Shepherd has written 244 post in this blog.

Clive is a consultant specialising in the application of technology to learning and business communications. He was previously Director of Training and Creative Services for a multinational corporation and co-founder of a major multimedia development company. For four years he was chair of the eLearning Network.

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